Twice As Nice (Croatian Chicken Paprikash and a Warm Boho Salad)

Two New Favorite Dishes

Since I arrived home, I’ve been vacillating between the life I started to eke out a year and a half ago after the fire (sorry to bring that up again) and “life” — after 3-1/2 months in Minnesota — following Mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Basically readjusting to my space.

Yes, there actually is (or once was) such a place, but some days I forget what that feels like. Between multiple phone calls to/from the care center, my Mom, the Realtor trying to sell Mom’s house from afar, her doctors, home inspectors… let’s just say I’m workin’ on it… a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Croatian Chicken Paprikash

Thank God for wonderful foodie friends who know me — or at least my love of GOOD foodand who’s recent recipes appealed to my sense of the familiar.

Pictured above is Croatian Chicken Paprikash by Jasmina Brasovic. OH MY! (Be sure to scroll down to her recipe for this on FB.) Even though my grandparents weren’t Croatian (they hailed from nearby Hungary), going back to my “Czech roots” — or at least the flavors that once fed me due to mutual proximity — has been instrumental in grounding me. I sooooo needed that!

Thanks, Jasmina, xo.

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Add to that an unconventional side dish: Maple Bacon Kale & Roasted Potatoes by Ally Phillips — a “warm salad” per my Boho friend, whom I know won’t mind that I subbed spinach (minus the chicken broth) and fried leftover baked potatoes in a pinch — and you have some extraordinarily good eatin’ on your hands (or plate), not to mention hearty Comfort Food by genealogical proximity.

Jasmina and Ally both have Croatia in common — twice as nice — plus exceptionally tasty recipes! My Grandma would have LOVED how these lovely ladies “cook.”

Nourishment is more than just eating — it’s food for the soul.

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Enjoying trying something new while attempting to get back to the “old,”

~ Kim

Fire and Ice

Well, the wind chill was 5° this morning (yes, in Oklahoma!) so I figured I better do a “heartwarming” post with Valentine’s Day just around the corner…

The first thing that came to mind was Southwest Chicken Satay.  (I took that photo in January mind you, while the weather was a tad warmer and I was manning — womanning?! — the grill.)

Actually, we have more of a “smoker” than a grill now, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Our winter has been pretty mild so far — no complaints from this former Minnesotan — especially when the lake looked like this a couple of winters ago:

(It came as a pretty big surprise to see ice along shore — we moved here to be warm.)

But then, life is full of surprises…

Take gift-giving, for instance.  The Man Of Few Words is a spontaneous soul when it comes to presenting tokens of his affection.  Rather than giving gifts on “expected” days (like birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine’s Day… ), he prefers to surprise me the other 362 days of the year.

Like the day he hauled home this:

A bouquet of roses it ain’t, but now instead of firing up the ‘ol Webber wanna-be, I get to “grill out” the Okie-fashioned way — yeehaw!  I love it!  (And him.)

Getting back to the food part of this post…

Southwest Chicken Satay with Lime Rice

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (which don’t dry out like chicken breasts potentially do on a “grill” the size of a Volkswagen…)

1/3 c. honey

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix (click here for a fabulous homemade version — thanks, Isabelle!)

1 T. freshly grated lemon zest

1 T. freshly grated orange zest

2 green onions, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Wooden skewers

Combine all ingredients (except skewers) in a large zip-top-style bag.  Seal and shake.  Refrigerate 2 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of marinating, soak skewers in water and make Lime Rice (see below.)  Now would also be a good time to fire up your grill (or smoker) — unless you have a gas grill.  (I’ll trust you to know how long it takes to heat to medium-high.)

When the chicken is done marinating, take it out of the bag (discard marinade), remove the skin, and slice the meat into thin strips.  (Yes, I know — it’s probably easier to slice the chicken into strips before marinating it, but I do it this way so the marinade doesn’t overpower the meat — I like my chicken to taste like chicken.)

Thread the strips onto the skewers; grill over medium-high heat, turning several times until cooked through.  (Watch closely so the honey in the marinade doesn’t burn, unless you like blackened chicken…)  Serve with Lime Rice.

Lime Rice

2 cups hot, cooked rice (prepared without salt)

Grated zest & juice from 1 lime

Kosher salt, on the side

Combine rice and grated zest.  Drizzle with lime juice and salt to taste.  Easy peasy.

As for the Valentine’s portion of this post…

The photographer in the spoon wishes y’all a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Enjoying the warmth of true love and surprises,

~ Kim

Spring Salad

There has to be a reason for Thursday afternoon lethargy.  Insert James T. Kirk monologue here:  “Must…overCOME…this strange…senSAtion!”  (Bear with me, I’m getting to the recipe…)   

“Captain!  I dunno how much longer the dilithium crystals are gonna hold out — we could lose our gravitational field at any moment!”  (Thrash about in mock dramatic moves here, if desired.)

Yup.  No “Bones” about it — the only cure is to cook something, quickly.  All I could think of was pasta salad…

By my calculations (and Spock’s), this will “energize” you faster than you can fire a phaser.  (Profuse apologies to any non-Star Trek fans… )  When intergalactic equilibrium is at stake, pasta salad is the answer.

Spring Salad

8 oz. pasta shells

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c. green onions (including tops), thinly sliced

1/2 c. celery, diced

1/2 c. toasted pecans

1/4 c. dried cranberries

Dressing

1 clove garlic

1/2 t. Kosher salt

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 to 2 T. sugar

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1/3 to 1/2 c. Miracle Whip (ordinarily I’d use mayonnaise, but I was humoring the hubby…)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Dash of curry powder

Cook pasta according to package directions until “al dente;” drain, then transfer to a large bowl.  Toss with 1 T. olive oil and stir in remaining salad ingredients.

To prepare the dressing, measure the salt onto a cutting board.  Mince the garlic with the salt until it’s very fine (almost paste-like); transfer it to a 2 cup glass measuring cup.  Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and sugar.  Give it a good stir (I use a fork), then slowly drizzle in the olive oil (while stirring) until it forms an emulsion.  Mix in the Miracle Whip and season with freshly ground pepper and curry powder to taste.

Combine dressing with salad ingredients; toss to coat.  Chill until ready to serve.

This salad is “out of this world.”  Beam me up.

Enjoying life at warp speed,

Kim

Psalm 148:13

P.S.  My quirky sense of humor will emerge on this blog now and then.  To reassure you that I’m still “down to earth,” here’s a recent photo from our corner of the galaxy.

Spring At The Lake (photo courtesy of Miracle Whip Man)

Life Is Like A Pilaf

Sometimes life is like a pilaf — bits and pieces thrown together with savory results.  Take last Friday, for instance…

After working full time for the third week in a row (following a two year hiatus spent primarily on sedentary pursuits…), I was starting to feel frazzled.  Then the phone rang, twice.  Not one lunch offer, but TWO.  God is good.

I juggled my Day Planner (aka slightly crumpled Post-It note stuck to the front of my wallet so I “won’t forget”) and accommodated both requests — one lunch date for high noon and the other for next week.  (Having something to look forward to keeps me going.)  Then I settled back into work with a smile, happy with my pilaf-of-a-life.   My husband says I’m easily amused.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d have to agree — I generally rate a 9 when it comes to savoring thrown together affairs.

Here’s a pilaf we enjoyed this weekend…

Paisano Pilaf

2 T. butter

1 c. long grain white rice

2 c. water

1 t. Kosher salt

1 jar (6.7 oz.) grilled artichokes in oil

1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in oil

1 roasted red pepper, jarred or previously roasted

1 T. capers (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350.  On your stovetop, melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add rice; stir 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to give off a nutty aroma.  Add the water and salt; stir until mixture comes to boiling.  Cover with a lid; using pot holders, carefully transfer to oven.  Bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red pepper.  (Need not thoroughly drain the artichokes or sun dried tomates; the residual oil adds to the flavor.)  Place this friendly-looking mess on a heat-proof plate on your stovetop to warm the veggies slightly as the rice bakes.

After 25 minutes, remove rice from oven and fluff it with a wooden spoon, making sure to “squeegee” any stubborn rice from the bottom and sides of the pan.  Let sit uncovered for 5 minutes to “dry,” then stir in the warmed, chopped veggies.  Serve with hot-off-the-grill steaks, kabobs, chops or salmon.  Or, try it alongside roast chicken, beef or pork loin.  Enjoy!

Recipe credit:  Oven-baked rice method adapted from Emeril’s “Real Deal Rice Pilaf.”  (I threw in the rest.)  Use whatever combo of add in’s tickles you!

Enjoying life at it’s pilaf finest,

Kim

Just A Thought…

The thing I love about blogs is that they’re a hodgepodge of thoughts.  Whether the topic is food or books or life in general, somebody somewhere has taken the time to write down what’s going on in their corner of the world.  Consequently, their thoughts impact mine –and mine yours.  Surround yourself with positive thoughts!

If you haven’t checked out my Blogroll yet, click on any of the links to the lower right — you’ll be transported through cyber space to the people who make my world brighter.  I’m delighted to share them and their thoughts with you!  Not to mention their recipes…

Recently, I spied a recipe on Tasty Kitchen called: Oregano Mushrooms in Melted Fontina.  Oh my!  I quickly rushed to the local grocery store in search of Fontina, but alas, Fontina was nowhere to be found.  They were also out of fresh oregano… and shiitakes… and…  (Small town grocers put the “in” in innovative — if its not IN stock, you learn to punt!)  Below is my version of these melty, marvelous mushrooms in their most basic, mushroom melt form.

Manchego Mushrooms

8 oz. mushrooms (I used baby bellas and plain ol’ white mushrooms)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3/4 c. grated Manchego cheese (Spanish sheep’s milk cheese)

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter a glass baking dish.  Slice mushrooms into 1/4″ slices and layer them into the baking dish.  Drizzle each layer with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper until the dish is heaped full.  (The mushrooms will shrink as they cook down — pile ’em high!)  Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove dish from oven and top with grated Manchego cheese.  Return to oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.  Serve immediately.

NOTE:  Manchego isn’t the “melty-est” of cheeses, so you’ll want to eat this dish fairly soon after you take it out of the oven.  (Like that would be a problem…)

Recipe source:  Tasty Kitchen and Jenna (of Jenna’s Everything Blog)

Think positive thoughts,

Kim